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While many of our Napa and Sonoma counterparts were dealing with one of the most challenging vintages in recent memory, conditions in the Santa Maria Valley were absolutely superb for our Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The core of the growing season had a slow, easy, European feel to it. The month of May brought an even set and well-balanced crop, followed by a persistent marine layer. Temperatures were below average through September, giving the fruit lots of time to develop its inherent flavor.
Like clockwork, a California heat spike hit in late September, only to be abruptly reversed by very confused storm systems.
Between the heat and rain, we had ten manic days to harvest all our Pinot noir and Chardonnay. Our Pinot harvest began Sept. 17*. Serious sleep deprivation and gallons of coffee got us through the next eight days and on Sept. 25 we crushed the last of our Pinot noir (and indulged in a few ice-cold beers).
Traditional gap between the Pinot and Chardonnay harvests be damned: On Sept. 25 the small yellow-green berries were ripe, clean and ready to go. We got all the Chardonnay in within three days.
Gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc from two vineyards was harvested Sept. 24-27 - relatively early, which means intoxicating aromas of gooseberry and grass.
Amazingly, in spite of the crazy weather, our fruit could not have been in more perfect condition. Our 2010 wines should be exceptional.
*Technically, our first Pinot noir was harvested Aug. 26, but that was strictly for an experiment you’ll hear more at a later date. And while we’re at it, stay tuned for more on a potential silver (moldy) lining to those unusual rainstorms.